Jeffrey Hatcher’s adaptation of Nikolai Gogol’s original was directed by Professor Andrew Gaupp (Theatre Arts), and delivered on promises of slapstick, excess, laughs and a plenty of naughtiness.
“The Government Inspector” is a story of mistaken identity set in 19th-century rural Russia. The philanderer and luckless gambler Hlestakov (played by Joshua Eguia) strolls upon the small town in which corruption and bribery are in excess. He manages to accidentally dupe the inhabitants and the mayor before realizing his situation and taking advantage of his good fortune. Meanwhile, the greedy townspeople head gradually towards their well-deserved comeuppance.
“Eccentric” would be the most accurate description of Gaupp’s stage production. The outfits and demeanors of the characters bring to mind an exaggerated version of the Red Queen’s Court in Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland.”
The first performance began with a degree of opening night nerves as technical difficulties prevented the stage props from sliding into place. Thankfully, this was the only issue that confronted the cast and stage crew.
The cast did a splendid job of making the characters fittingly detestable and idiotic. Their excellently garish garbs reflected the outlandish tone of the play, which saw a case of mistaken identity spin the town into confusion and desperation.
Katherine Anne Weekley offered a very entertaining performance, playing the mayor’s wife, Anna Andreyevna. Her riotous guffaws had the audience in reels of laughter. Not to mention her flower arrangement of a headpiece that is worthy of any decorative plant pot. Like most of the characters, Anna Andreyevna is excellently unbearable, loud and vulgar.
In the double act of Dobchinsky and Bobchincky, played by Philippus Boshoff and Garett Mote respectively, you can see remnants of Tintin’s Thomson and Thompson (albeit in a rather more roguish capacity as the play is littered with innuendo and double-entendres).
Overall, the performance delivers a light-hearted comedy, providing maximum laughs for minimal morals.
“The Government Inspector” runs Oct. 24-27. Tickets and showtimes are available on the Department of Theatre Arts box office.
(By Charlotte Whiteley, COLA Communications)